This is the last installment for my "Memories Spoken" essay. I should have done more.
Junior and High School - Gilbert, Iowa Entry # 5
I had many of those throughout my Junior High and High School at Gilbert, Iowa. We moved there when I was in eighth grade and it was a wonderful place to go to school. There were only 17 in our class and I was the outsider. Most of them had been together since kindergarten. There was only one boy I did not get along with and as I think back on it now he was short. That may explain it.
The teachers there were outstanding. My civics teacher was Helen Nichols and she had moved to the Gilbert School system when she married Judge Nichols. At that time the school systems were still repressive and controlling as far as their teachers were concerned. She chose to marry the Judge without permission from the school system and lost her job in Ames. Their loss was my gain because she became not only one of my finest teachers but a friend with whom I kept in touch for many years.
I learned to drive while I was a student at Gilbert and our driving instructor took us to Des Moines to practice driving. I am sure that is one reason I was not afraid to drive in Los Angeles when I went there to visit my mother’s sister between my Junior and Senior year.
Mother had gone out for a visit between Christmas and New Years and she had a wonderful time. She wangled an invitation for me to go out the next summer and while I am sure it was a financial burden for her a train ticket was purchased and I boarded the train the next summer for a trip across the West to Los Angeles. I think our country has made a great mistake by not developing the train system.
It is a great way to travel and the observation cars revealed a never-ending panorama of the kaleidoscope that is America. I sat for hours as the scenery went by with never ending changing landscapes. I especially loved it when we went by and through mountains. I was traveling with my money pinned to my undershirt and was very suspicious of my seatmate, a nice elderly lady, who I had been assured, would probably try to rob me of any money I had. I learned card tricks from a traveling gentleman in the club car. Took meals in the diner and thoroughly enjoyed my self. Later I was to travel to the East coast on our Senior Class Trip to Washington, DC and New York City. I traveled from one coast to the other within one year. Not too bad for someone who had never been outside ofIowa and Nebraska.
Travel is a great teacher and I have been fortunate to travel to many places. My favorite method of travel is by automobile and I love to plan and take a road trip, stopping when there is something interesting to see or just looking at the scenery as I whiz by.
Gilbert also gave me my second experience in theater. The first was an abortive attempt by someone to hold a class in “creative drama” in the auditorium of the Ames Public Library. I was paired with another individual and told to pretend I was riding a horse around in a circle and hold a conversation with my partner as if I were George Washington. After a not very successful attempt I dropped out after the first class. I much preferred the Junior and Senior Class plays at Gilbert High School - One of them being “Granddad Steps Out.” Not great theater but the audience (consisting of friends and family) seemed to like it and because of that experience I later joined the College players, Cedar Rapids Community Theater and ACTORS in Ames. More about that later.
We also learned how to be entrepreneurs at Gilbert. I joined the Future Farmers of America which was part of the Vocational Agriculture program taught by Guy Stockdale another teacher who became a friend. Come to think of it most of my Gilbert teachers became friends and one of the best is Coleen Campbell who was my business/typing teacher. As a part of this group we had to have a project. I raised chickens and made out like a bandit. My grandfather loaned me an old house that stood on his property, which we had used as storage and a playhouse. I purchased chickens and fed them and then he purchased them from me. We took them to Boone to have them processed and besides the profit from the sale of the chickens I got to help eat them as my grandmother fixed them for Sunday dinner.
My Grandmother - Entry #6
I want to spend a few moments with my grandparents. There were never two finer human beings that walked the planet that Clarence (Dig) and Sadie Cole. I called my grandmother Ma and worshiped her as did my grandfather. In fact, I don’t believe I ever heard anyone say a bad word against her.
She had been married once before but her first husband died. They had one child my Aunt Etlhynn whom everyone called “Sis.” The story goes that on the day she married her first husband someone saw my grandfather on the street and because of the look of despair on his face asked him what was wrong. He answered, “The only woman I will ever love got married today.” After her husband died he paid suit to her and married her and had five girls with her. All of my aunts were wonderful but I was most fortunate in my mother as she was much like my grandmother in temperment.
My grandmother was a wonderful cook and we had Sunday dinners and holiday dinners at our house. By this time my mother had moved back with her folks who had retired and moved to the north side of Ames. This was in the Gilbert High School district and again I was fortunate to be able to go to school there with its small classes and caring teachers.
My grandmother had an antique shop on the front porch and I grew up around beautiful things. Art glass, Wedgewood, cut glass and interesting furniture were among the many things we enjoyed. Many people came to her shop and we always had to stop what we were doing to wait on customers.
My grandmother’s father was a lawyer, educated in Madison, Wisconsin. He had been mayor of Ames and Master of Arcadia Lodge Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. My grandfather’s family moved here in 1865. They came by rail and first settled near the area of Homewood Golf Course. Later (1875) they moved to the home place at 13th and Burnett. The house I remember as belonging to my three maiden aunts. Originally the Coles had come from Ireland and settled in western Massachusetts. They were farmers and bricklayers and builders.